This is our first post to this forum but have noticed some helpful advice from everyone asking questions here.
My wife and I are going to be traveling in China and S.E. Asia (Sumatra, Cambodia, and Thailand) in June of this year. We will be going for 5 weeks. We would like to cover a lot of ground yet still enjoy our trip. We plan on taking overnight trains where possible and practical but plan on flying Air Asia most of the time to take advantage of their inexpensive fares. We are planning on seeing these places in probably this order: Hong Kong, Beijing, Xian, Chengdu, Bukit Lawang in Sumatra, Kuala Lumpur, Angkor Wat, Chiang Mai, and finally we fly out of Bangkok. Hong Kong is our first stop because we are flying Cathay Pacific there and then have a stopover on the way to Beijing. We will have 3 full days in Hong Kong. Everything else in between we are leaving open. I guess our question is, do any of you have any suggestions on traveling in China and S.E. Asia in general that you wish you would have known before going? Also what do you think of our itinerary? Did we miss anything? We know we can't see it all but when we go someplace we like to see a lot while we are there. How about vaccinations? We planned on getting Hep A and Hep B for sure. Any others you would recommend? We plan on bringing Malarone for malaria. My wife is very sensitive to mosquito bites...and bites in general...would anyone recommend anything else besides product with DEET. Also, we know it is going to be hot...we live in Phoenix where it is 116 most of the time...and yes we know it's a dry heat! But it's still HOT. Is the weather any reason to avoid any certain areas? Thank you for looking at our post and we look forward to hearing your suggestions!
if you can divert on flying to the Philippines which is just 1.5 hours flight from Hong Kong to Manila... then you can try to fly to Palawan where you can enjoy beautiful beaches... On Palawan, you will basically have to choose on going to Puerto Princesa city where you will find the longest underwater river in the world, or fly to El Nido which is a famous snorkeling and diving site... basically the Palawan island group is considered as the Philippines' last frontier...
In Manila, you may be able to see the remains of the Spanish, American and Japanese colonial periods (Intramuros, Corregidor, etc..) or see the former US Naval base in Subic....
the June period is generally in the start of the monsoon season (May to October) of Southeast Asia so expect typhoons and very wet weather specially on the northern part of the Philippines, Vietnam and sometimes in the Hong Kong area... bring your umbrella or rain coats... during this period we usually experience high humidity but less heat from the sun compared to summer periods....the Palawan archipelago usually enjoy good weather year-round as they are usually not typhoon prone... you can also try Boracay which boasts of its sugary smooth white beach.. I've been there and it's beautiful!
Filipinos generally use English as their second language, most signages are in English, so communication may not be a problem while visiting here..
From HongKong you can fly thru Cebu Pacific to Manila and get Cebu Pacific flights to Palawan... then using Cebu Pacific you can fly to Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok, Jakarta, Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh, Guangzhou, Singapore, Macau, Taipei and Xiamen from Manila... they are usually offering low fares... with good service...
[ Edit: Edited on Jan 30, 2008, at 2:20 AM by pau_p1 ]
does pau_p1 work for the Philippines tourist authority?
You are right in thinking the weather will be hot at this time of year in Asia. In China it is a dry, dusty heat, the rest of South East Asia will be just starting their monsoon season, apart from Sumatra (June onwards is the best time to visit Indonesia).
You will probably find it quite humid and you'll sweat buckets loads, in SE Asia there will be brief showers in the afternoon probably for an hour or so, although it may be more as the monsoon patterns have been really weird in Asia this last year!
Hong Kong, Beijing, Xi'an and Chengdu are great places...I would recommend using overnight trains between Beijing, Xi'an and Chengdu. It saves a night's accommodation and it's a fun way to travel...just try and get bottom sleepers they are the best
Indonesia is a great place, you'll love it! So cheap and the people are so friendly. Cambodia is fab also, so much history and tragedy but the people are amazing!
I would suggest a slightly different trip because your trying to cover a lot ground in a short period of time. A few years ago I did a trip from Singapore to Hanoi and I had to pretty much cut out Malaysia and northern Vietnam.
Early June Beijing is going to be hot but that being said Beijing is always a good time. It will be interesting to see the city right before it goes into full Olympic explosion. The other hand you need to be careful. Around mid June is when all the Chinese Universities end school and that means all the students travel home at that time making getting train tickets extremely difficult and trains extremely crowded. I just posted a blog entry about hard seat trains in cChina. You should check on the exact date of when students end school.
The natural place after Beijing would be Xi’an and Xi’an will be extremely crowded during June. The best idea would be to try to arrive in Xi’an mid week to try and avoid the weekend crowds. Now after that is a tough question. Unless you are really excited about going to the beach I would stick to the mountains to avoid the typhoons. From Xi’an I would fly to a city in Yunnan, such as Kunming or Lijiang because Chengdu is going to very hot and humid by that time of the year. And the only thing to do in Chengdu it self is see the Pandas, unless you want to go out into the country side around the province which will be your entire 5 weeks. Also you can take an overnight train to Chengdu then fly to Kunming. From Yunnan work your way south to Lao, go into Lao overland and from there go to Chang Mai. From Chang Mai go to Bangkok and do a quick trip over to Cambodia to see Angkor Wat. Maybe if you have more time take some cheap flights over to some of the other places you want to see.
This trip would take me 5 weeks maybe a little less depending on how fast I go. Traveling much quicker then this would be risky because who knows what is going to happen with buses and roads. As I said before if you do travel quick then just add some more stuff from Bangkok at the end of your trip.
The other problem is that Air Asia does not have and domestic flights in China. They have flights from cities in China to cities outside of China and even then very few. Therefore if you want to do your original trip you will be doing lots and lots of flying and some on Chinese airlines. If you want to fly in China you can look at www.elong.net for fares.
There are also some amazing places around Beijing and Xi'an. Pingyao is a great Ming city between Beijing and Xi'an and worth a stop. Also remember that if you want to do the standard in Beijing which is the Forbidden City, Summer Palace, Lama Temple, Drum Tower, Houtong tour and the great wall that will take at least 4 full days no matter how quick you travel.
[quote=loubylou]does pau_p1 work for the Philippines tourist authority?
hahaha... nope I don't I just love to promote my homeland and to let you guys know that there are other exotic places in the Philippines that other nationalities should see aside from going to the common route of China and mainland Asia...
I've been outside the country and I'd say that I love Singapore and I would recommend seeing Ha Long Bay near Hanoi, Vietnam...